NASA’s 1st female astronaut candidate, Jerrie Cobb, dies

Jerrie Cobb poses next to a Mercury spaceship capsule. (NASA photo)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s first female astronaut candidate, pilot Jerrie Cobb, has died.

Cobb died in Florida at age 88 last month. News of her death came Thursday from journalist Miles O’Brien, serving as a family spokesman.

In 1961, Cobb became the first woman to pass astronaut testing. Altogether, 13 women passed the arduous physical testing and became known as the Mercury 13. But NASA already had its Mercury 7 astronauts, all test pilots and men.

None of the Mercury 13 ever reached space.

Cobb served for decades as a humanitarian aid pilot in the Amazon jungle. She emerged in 1998 to make another pitch for space, as NASA prepared to launch John Glenn on shuttle Discovery at age 77. Cobb argued unsuccessfully that the research should include an older woman.

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